June 2, 2011

Butler Adds Eight Men's Soccer Recruits

First-year head coach Paul Snape has wrapped up his initial recruiting class and will welcome eight newcomers to Butler's men's soccer roster this fall.  The Bulldogs' 2011 class includes one transfer and seven incoming freshmen.

Snape, who was named Butler's head coach in January, has received commitments from Brycen Howard of South Oldham High School, Thor Kellin of Cactus Shadows (Ariz.) High School, Tyler Lasky of Avon High School, Vlad Lekarev of Strongsville (Ohio) High School, Jesse Miser of North Central High School, Chad Rigg of Lake Central High School, Tanner Wilcox of Christian Academy of Louisville (Ky.), and Justin Sass, a transfer from the University of Evansville.

"It's been an exciting past few years for Butler men's soccer, and we are eager to continue to build on the program's much deserved success," said Snape, who was Associate Head Coach at Michigan prior to assuming Butler's head job.  "The core of the current team is strong and experienced, and the 2011 class will bring additional value in terms of skill, athleticism, intelligence, passion and determination."

"The players in this year's recruiting class fit in with the program's philosophy and style of play, but most importantly, they possess the essential characteristics of being a successful student-athlete - knowledge, integrity, humility, respect and motivation," added the Butler coach.  "We look forward to watching them represent Butler University this fall, and being a source of pride for all the alumni and Bulldogs' supporters."

Howard was a two-year All-State performer at South Oldham, and he was a member of multiple state cup and regional championship teams while playing for Javanon Soccer Club.  The talented midfielder was a Region II ODP Pool Player, 2006-08, and a member of the U. S. National Team pool in 2006.  Howard currently plays for Indiana United soccer club.  

"Brycen has tremendous technical ability; his touch and passing is as good as any youth player in the country," said Snape.  "He is mobile, fluid, quick and physically similar to Barcelona's mercurial duo, Xavi & Iniesta.  He is an intelligent player who has the chance to make an immediate impact this fall."

Kellin was a first team All-State selection and the 2010 Men's Athlete of the Year at Cactus Shadows.  He was a member and team captain of three state cup championship teams for Sereno Soccer Club (2007, 2009, 2011) and a member of the Region IV ODP team, 2008-10.

"Thor is one of the most determined human beings I have ever met," stated Snape of his incoming defender.  "Nobody will work harder in practice or in the games.  He is a versatile athlete who can play either fullback or in the midfield.  His tackling is impressive, and his one-on-one defending is very good.  What really sets him apart is his mental strength and focus.  I'm glad he will be on our side and not playing against us."

Lasky, a three-year varsity starter at Avon, is a 2009 All-Metro West selection and a 2010 All-Hoosier Crossroads Conference pick.  This past year, he earned a National Soccer Scholar Award and a Senior Soccer Excellence Award.  Lasky was a member of three state cup championship teams with Westside United soccer club.

"Tyler has witnessed first-hand the emergence of Butler men's soccer as a national power, and he is determined to be a part of the program's future success," noted Snape.  "He is an athletic defender whose strengths are one-on-one defending, heading and tackling.  He is an honest player who will give 100% effort and commitment in every practice session and game."

Lekarev, a 2010 All-State performer, was the leading goal scorer and team Most Valuable Player at Strongsville.  He's a member of the Region II ODP Team, was part of a Region II championship team in 2007 and a member of the 2008 U-18 National Team Pool.  He currently plays for Internationals soccer club.

"Vlad is a unique character who is going to bring knowledge, composure and confidence to the team," said Butler's coach.  "He is a technician who possesses an excellent range of passing skills.  He has a high soccer 'IQ', and he is eager to learn.  His passion for the game is infectious, and there is no doubt he will be an inspirational teammate."

Miser was a second team All-State player and both an academic and athletic All-Conference performer at North Central last year.  The team's Mental Attitude Award winner is a member of Indiana United soccer club.

"Jesse has the potential to be one of the best defenders in the college game," said Snape.  "He is big, strong, fast, powerful and fearless.  He possesses a high level of tactical acumen, and he is very coachable.  Jesse is a lively character who inspires teammates to do better.  He is a natural leader, who will guide this program to further success."

Rigg was team captain for the 2010 Indiana High School Athletic Association state champion Lake Central Indians.  He was a first team All-State pick as a senior, and the 2010 Indiana Soccer Coaches Association (ISCA) Player of the Year.  The gifted forward, who plays for Indiana United soccer club, was an ODP Region II Player, 2006-09, and a member of the 2009 USYSA ODP National Championship Team.

"Chad is a player who continues to improve each week.  He can play either as a forward or as an attacking midfielder," noted Snape.  "He is two-footed, quick, technical and creative.  He is an unselfish worker who always puts the team success before his own.  I expect him to adjust quickly to the rigors of the college game.  Chad always plays with a smile on his face, and he'll bring an abundance of positive energy to the team."

Wilcox was a two-time All-District selection, 2010 All-Region pick and 2010 All-State performer on his high school team.  He further played on the Javanon State Cup Championship team in 2009.  He currently plays for Indiana United soccer club.

"Tanner is a forward with good pace and the ability to cause havoc in the opponent's box," said Snape.  "He has good endurance, and he works hard on the defensive side of the game.  He has a great personality and will fit in well with the team."

Sass is transferring to Butler, after playing two seasons at Evansville.  He was a two-year starter, third team All-Midwest Region performer and team Defensive MVP award winner for the Aces.  The talented defender was a first team All-State player at New Palestine High School and a member of multiple State Cup Championship teams with the Carmel Cosmos soccer club.

"We are delighted that Justin chose to spend his two remaining years of college eligibility at Butler," stated Snape.  "He will be a colossus at the heart of the defense.  His presence will help us continue the tradition of being an excellent defensive team.  He is outstanding in the air, and his tackling is ferocious.  He reads the game at a high level, and his will to win is second to none.  He also will have a massive influence on the younger players on the team."

Butler, coming off a 16-1-3 season that included Horizon League regular season and tournament championships and a berth in the 2011 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship, will begin fall camp on August 10.  The Bulldogs will play a home exhibition match against Notre Dame on August 18 and then open the regular season at the Butler Bowl against Bradley on August 27.